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Spelman College

President's Letter to the Community

A Message From the President

November 15, 2016

Dear Spelman Community,

Now that we are one week away from the national elections, I share with the Spelman community a note that I sent to the Spelman Board of Trustees regarding the years ahead of us:

On the evening of Tuesday, November 8, the student leadership of Spelman College organized the College’s third election night lock-in. The evening began as a festive affair as over 800 women eventually gathered in a Manley Center filled with balloons, music, DJs, the media and large screens, to watch up-to-date election results being broadcast. Overwhelmingly, our Spelman students, the next generation of women who will lead the world, were expecting to celebrate the election of the first woman president of the United States.

The next day, the election of Donald J. Trump was announced. We tolled campus bells, calling students, faculty and staff to gather in Manley at noon, this time for reflection and conversation and to re-affirm the values of Spelman College. 

In the coming weeks and months, Spelman will pay close attention to how the election will affect the College. We are particularly attentive to decisions of the new administration that might impact financial aid support of our students or our ability to provide a supportive learning environment or to support our faculty in their research. Areas of particular concern are as follows:

  • Pell Grants help defray the cost of college for over half of our students come from Department of Education funds.
  • The Department of Education supplies Spelman with roughly $3M a year in Title III funding that supports some STEM faculty, some of the school’s technology staffing and infrastructure and its teaching and learning centers.
  • Individual faculty at Spelman have supported their research and encouraged the research of our undergraduates with over $4M a year in federal research funding.
  • Tax incentives encourage private philanthropy.
  • HBCUs are the recipients of a long list of federal funds designed specifically for this category of educational institution.

The good news is that the College can depend on the expertise of Helga Greenfield, who serves as my chief of staff and associate vice president of Government Relations. On Spelman’s behalf, Helga has maintained excellent relations with legislators on both sides of the aisle and she will continue to provide guidance as we move into a new political world order.

We should keep in mind that this is a new political world order. Policy changes and ideological shifts will follow. As we launch a new strategic plan for the next five years, we will have the opportunity to account for those shifts in our planning process. Creativity and imagination as well as courage and fearlessness will serve us well.

One last thought: Years ago, I took my first white water canoeing trip down the Delaware Water Gap. The rapids were No. 5 (high water) and the canoe was hurtling down the river like a rocket, twisting and turning and threatening to jettison me head first into the rapids.

For the first few minutes I was panic-struck, terrified and thought I would die. I quickly realized a few things: I couldn’t go back. I couldn’t get out of the canoe. It’d be two hours before we reached our first stop. So I did the next best thing. I relaxed, paid attention to the water and rocks and navigated the twists and turns. Eventually, I was loving the ride. I’m thinking that this is what Spelman will need to do in the next four years. 

If anyone has thoughts, ideas, suggestions or advice, please feel free to share. 


Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. 
Spelman College 
350 Spelman Lane, SW 
Atlanta, GA 30314-4399